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The road to my first marathon

The road to my first marathon

Originally written November 14, 2013, this is a training recap of my first marathon.

Wow, it is already race day. I am writing this as I wake up and prepare for my first marathon. I haven’t blogged over the last few months because my life has been crazy. Apparently, training for a marathon takes way more time than I anticipated. But – I have had many successful runs and I feel ready. I’ll let you know in the post-race blog as to if that really is the case!

I did a lot of things leading up to this race that I haven’t done in the past. Mainly, I joined a training group. That is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Each week they had three training sessions, but due to my work schedule I could only do long runs with the group. It was perfect to know people were waiting to see you Sunday morning and run long together. It made me get out of bed when it was raining, very hot, and there were even a few cold mornings! It also helped me do more than just survive my long runs, it became fun and there were many mornings where we were all setting personal distance records together. There is something really cool about being able to encourage each other by saying, “each step you take is a personal record, this is worth it!”

During the training, I learned that I am most definitely a morning runner. Sometimes, I would have to do my training runs after work or very close to my bedtime (6pm) and those were usually the worst runs. I would be tired, sluggish, and felt like I couldn’t hardly keep going for even a short 3 miler.

I started reverting back to more traditional eating. I was needing more carbs, or at least that is what I felt like. So I started eating more oatmeal and 9-Grain muffins from the bakery. All the work I have done to get more “fat-adapted” has pretty much been lost during my training. I don’t feel too bad about it, but being carb and sugar dependent does make me a little unstable when I’m hungry.

The first half of my marathon training was more balanced with running and weight training workouts, but as the miles got longer, I began to only make time for running. Only sometimes would I stretch and foam roll, and very rarely, every other week at best, would I do any sort of weight training. Mainly that would be in the form of squat breaks at work, walking lunges while out on a run or some push-ups before going to work. Toward the end of my training, I could definitely tell my muscles were weaker, I had endurance to keep running but I didn’t feel as strong. My personal perception is that my body composition changed during this experience, my hips widened and my butt flattened out. I was extremely lucky that I did not gain weight during training, but I worked very hard to not over-eat on non-training and low-mileage days. Keeping my carbs down also helped, as I was turning to veggies and protein as much as possible to keep me full.

Training for the marathon was a huge mental and physical feat. On the days I was having bad runs, whether short or long, I would keep telling myself that this is how the end of the marathon would feel. That I would have no choice but to keep going, keep running and finish what I started. As the mileage increased, hitting personal records was fun one week and terrible the next. The 14 mile run was not terrible, but not great. The following week, after running 16 miles I felt much better, physically. My body didn’t hurt as bad and mentally I enjoyed the run.

Running 18 miles was tough, but with the help of my running group, I was successful in completing my goal. We ran about a 10 minute mile pace for the first 14 miles or so, with a few stops to re-group, go to the bathroom, etc. Around the 14 mile mark, some of the group fell off the pace and three of us set out to finish our run. There was some joking, lots of fantasizing about breakfast tacos and mutual encouragement to keep the others running, even though we all wanted to quit.

My least favorite part of marathon training was my 20 mile training run and the 20 mile “race” put on by my training group. The day we were scheduled to run 20, I decided to get some sleep and just go for a short 5 mile run with Pearl. So I set out on a Monday morning to run 20 miles, and it was pretty disastrous. I had to stop right at mile 3 for a potty break and then felt pretty good until mile 8, where I almost immediately needed to find a restroom. I got to the bathroom at mile 9, and (TMI alert) proceeded to stop for much longer than I would have preferred. After that stop, I was ready to go, and good until mile 14, where I was feeling like I needed more water and a Powerade. It was a hot day, and although I had my camel pack, I was definitely running low on fluids. I had to circle back around to a gas station, fill up with ice and water and buy a Powerade. When I set out again, I felt the weight of the water but had energy until about mile 17, then it was just painfully slow and tough to keep going. Ben called me at mile 18 and I requested he come pick me up because mile 20 was going to be 2 miles away from our house. I couldn’t bear the thought of walking one more step past 20 miles. It hurt to walk but I could barely keep running, so I would run and then walk a little all the way until I finished 20 miles about 100 yards from the Alamo. Ben was there to pick me up and I was so relieved it was over!

I am pretty embarrassed to say that from about miles 16 to mile 20, nothing good came out of my mouth and my thoughts were pretty bad as well. I was cursing everything from the pavement to my camelpack to the person who decided I should run a marathon (yes, I was cursing myself).

Lucky the 20 mile race was better and I felt more prepared for the marathon. The last crazy mental feat was exactly one week before the race. I had run 4 miles and 6 miles earlier in the week and figured we would run about 6 miles to keep it easy before the race. Then my coach told me I should run 10 miles. I only had one RehydrateGEL on me, and I almost didn’t eat breakfast because I figured we weren’t running long. I decided I would just see how I felt at the 6 and 8 mile turn-back points, but then I realized this was my last test before the marathon. Could I run farther than I thought? Could I run farther than I was mentally prepared to run? Could I push past my mental limitations and rely on my past training, knowing I could easily run 10 miles? And I did, with the help of a few running buddies of course.

How could 6 months of running, training and racing already be done? Race day is here (and gone by the time I am finishing this!) and I am going to be a marathoner.

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Running

 

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Siclovía Sunday

Siclovía fell on September 29th this year. We have been attending the event for two years now, once in the spring and once in the fall. The first Siclovía was a great event and we had so much fun riding our bikes in the street with out traffic. About a year later when we went to Siclovía, we met Pearl for the first time! This year, nothing too special happened during the event. But I did have a personal distance record of running 16 miles earlier in the day, and then was able to ride my bike 5.6 miles afterwards!!

Siclovia Postcard

The day started out rainy, but it stopped around 8 am and the rest of the day was cool, overcast with a beautiful breeze. It doesn’t sound that amazing, but trust me, it is a needed break from the last three months of upper 90’s and 100 degree days! Surprisingly, there weren’t as many people out for the event as I would have imagined. I guess everyone thought it was going to rain again. We took a short ride up to the end of the route, said hello to my fellow running friends and then proceeded down the route to church.

We are in the middle of a sermon series entitled, “Survey Says” because a few weeks ago a survey was taken asking everyone in the services what issues they would like to hear addressed on Sundays. Last week, there was a sermon on suffering and this week it was about God’s will, specifically, what are we supposed to be doing with our lives. It was a great sermon with good pointers on making decisions in a wise way and also understanding that God doesn’t give us the whole picture, just the next step. Kind of like when you use a flashlight, you can’t see everything, just a few feet in front of you.

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On our way home, we stopped at the Boiler House in the Pearl Brewery complex to get brunch. They have an amazing menu, but our favorite is definitely brunch. I got the Hangover Hash, to cure my running hangover from earlier in the day! Ben chose the S’mores French Toast, sugary heaven of french toast covered in nutella with marshmallows, berries and ice cream. C-R-A-Z-Y! Sorry for the small picture – I had to copy it from their website because I was too hungry to take pictures of my own!

Although I didn’t take a picture of my meal, it was exactly what I wanted and I had no problem downing ALL of it! We are so blessed to live in an area with amazing restaurants!

How was your Sunday? What new foods or restaurants have you tried lately?

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in When in Texas...

 

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16 miles of Ghost Stories

Yesterday marked a new personal running distance record for me. 16 miles. Yes, one-six, like the age when you get your driver’s license, only somehow I ran that far. Whew – it’s tiring just to think about it again! I am so thankful for my CarreraThon training group because it would have been an extremely tough run all by myself. Truly, the only reason I finished this run is because I prayed that God would keep me going when I wanted to quit. I totally was leaning on the verse that says “in your(my) weakness, I(God) am strong” because I was very weak, but He kept me going.

It was raining when I got up at 4 am and I really contemplated going back to bed and running later in the day. Instead, I started baking a pumpkin loaf and getting ready for my run. I like to have time to relax, eat, organize my fuel/water situation and mentally prepare for the run. It wasn’t until about 6:25 that I actually decided I was going to meet the group at 7 to run. It was still raining when I arrived at our starting point, but by then I was committed to running, as long as everyone else was running.

We waited until 7:45 because it was very dark and by that time the rain was pretty light. The first three miles tried to dodge the puddle but still ended up soaked head to foot. Our route was along most of the last half of the Rock N Roll marathon route. I was very happy to run this because I always feel more confident running a race when I know the route ahead of time. Our turn by turn said something about Ghost Tracks, and I didn’t exactly understand this. Everyone kept making jokes and finally, I had to tell them I didn’t know what they were talking about. We ran past a large cemetary, which is part of the marathon route, and apparently there is a Ghost that will stare at you if you get too close. I did not see any ghosts, but our coach said on that stretch of road during the actual marathon, the crowd will be pretty dead. Ok, bad joke, but we laughed pretty hard!

Running, running, running, bathroom stop, running, running, running. And then the ghost stories began. We ran along the rail road tracks for at least a mile maybe longer, and that is where I got to hear the story about the Ghost Tracks. Apparently, in the 60’s or 70’s, a schoolbus full of children got stuck on the railroad tracks and was hit by a train, killing several children. At this point, I’m feeling down, not the way you want to feel less than halfway into your 16 mile run. The upside is, the little ghost children are still in the area and watch over the tracks. People will line up, put baby powder on the trunk of their car and straddle the tracks with the car in neutral. If you wait long enough, the ghosts will push your car off the tracks. I was highly skeptical at this point, but our coach said she actually did it and there were little finger prints on the back of her car when it got across the tracks. I’ll let you know if this actually works, but I’m not sure I really want to try it.

Ok, back to running, running, running. Eat a LARAbar, running, running, running. Take a Rehydrate GEL, keep running. Yeah, it is kind of boring I know. I wish I could tell you all the funny jokes we passed around, but I’m terrible at telling a good joke. At mile 12, our coach fell back to make sure two other runners finished and three of us kept on pushing. We had a couple little hills right at this point, and we all kept encouraging one another to keep running. When we got to mile 14, each step was a new personal record for all of us. It was very cool, even though we were tired and only wanted to stop for breakfast tacos, we kept running. It really made me think of the TEDtalk I watched about running and how it is meant to be done in community. If you have 15 minutes, definitely listen to it!!

Our route ended just short of 16 miles, so we looped around the park just long enough to make 16. When we stopped, it was like we all had jello legs. They felt like they were still moving even though we weren’t running anymore. I immediately took off my shoes and sat down indian style. After about 10 minutes I got my foam roller and rolled out at much as possible. I also downed a powerade and about half a liter of water. I felt very accomplished, tired and a little dismayed that in about 5 weeks I would have to keep running for 10 more miles after this point. Thank goodness for God and his angels to carry me because otherwise it just won’t happen.

Do you have any real life ghost stories?? What were your first marathon training experiences like?

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Running, When in Texas...

 

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Flood Run

If you have been watching the news since last Friday, you will know that San Antonio had some major flooding happen. Luckily, we were not personally affected by the flooding. On Saturday morning, I woke up and arrived at work around 3 am, just in time for it to start raining. It proceeded to rain all morning, and quite hard. Customers came in and were talking about how it was flooding, and high water in various places around the city. When I went home around 11 am, I took the highways, and the roads were open and not under water. I was already exiting at the spot on US Highway 281 where the road was closed due to flooding. I didn’t really get it when the police were forcing everyone to exit, since I needed to get off anyway. On my way home, I did take the scenic route through Brackenridge park and here are a few pictures from that. There is a bridge in the pictures and a bench, and usually I can run across this area – without getting my feet wet!image

 

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In the picture below, you can see where the river has completely overflowed its banks. Normally this is a grassy area, not under water!

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It wasn’t until I got home and started reading twitter, checking facebook and watching the news, that I realized how intense the flooding was. I couldn’t believe how much water was in the Olmos Basin – OVER the highway! To tell you how high that is, normally when you drive, you can just barely see the tops of the trees over the sides of the road. So crazy! Well, Sunday morning, I decided to get up and take a run to survey the flooding situation. Many of my running routes are near the river, Olmos Dam or through the Olmos Basin area. I ran up Devine until I got to this sign.

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There was one police officer and two other guys at the barricade taking pictures as well. Normally I run down this road, under the bridge and through the park in the Basin.

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The bridge there is actually part of the highway that cuts over the Basin. I don’t think the water got over this part of the highway.

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I backtracked a little, and headed over to the Olmos Dam. You can see the dry side of the dam on the left side of this picture.

 

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The water was churning out as fast as they would let it flow. I’ve never seen water coming out of the dam before.

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This is the water on the back side of the dam – as you can see, just the tops of the trees are above water!

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I was not the only one out running to check out the flooding – I saw several people walking and running along the dam! Later we drove by and there was a line of cars parked on both sides of people looking at the water.

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The rain brought out lots of little critters, including the snails! I crunched quite a few by accident before I realized they were all over the sidewalks.

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These are my new running shoes – they have about 12 miles on them so far.

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And, thanks to my over-zealousness, running 6 miles in my new shoes gave me a nice blister!

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When Ben and I went out for dinner, we ended up on the North Side of the Olmos Basin, at the Quarry Market. Here are a few pictures from that area.

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The bridge you see here is US Highway 281 again, just to the south (left) is where the highway went underwater. I have to say – the sign is a little understated at the moment!

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I am wishing the best for everyone affected by this flooding and also, please pray for the families who lost loved ones due to the floods. Please be safe and remember – turn around, don’t drown!

 
 

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Fiesta Fandango 2.6 Race

Pearl and I ran to the park to register for the Fiesta Fandango 2.6 night run which is run along the Fiesta Flambeau night parade route. We got lightly rained on there and back but still had a nice run. Pearl is not the best at helping me register for races, but everyone still thought she was cute.

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I was so excited when I got my race shirt and numbers because they gave us a normal number AND a Boston 4-15-13 race bib!!! I have been wanting one to support the Boston runners but didn’t know when it would actually happen.

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My friends came and parked at my house and then we walked down to the start of the race, which was also the start of the Fiesta Flambeau Parade. We got to see some of the floats before the parade started.

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Before the race!

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Everyone getting lined up amid the parade chaos.

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There were lots of fun, fiesta themed costumes, but the Cascarones were by far the best! If you don’t know what a Cascarone is, please come back next year during Fiesta and find out!

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About half way through the race I was able to catch up to one guy carrying an American flag and it was really fun to hear the crowd cheer and chant “U-S-A, U-S-A!” as we ran past.

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More costume pictures – a real-life pinata:

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Taco Runners! They said I could be part of the group next year…pretty sure I’m going to do it.

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Post-race picture:

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After our race, we hiked back to the start of the race to watch the parade. I got to see the UT marching band along with several others.

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Jazz Float.

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San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Float – I might have to see if I can get on that next year.

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It is a terrible picture, but I had to get a shot of how all the marching band members wear lights on their uniforms which adds a great effect since most of the parade is after dark.

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I headed home a little before the parade was finishing up because I didn’t want to pay to use a porta-potty, especially since my house was only 6 blocks away! I grabbed a quick shot of the line of street sweepers ready to clean up after the parade.

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The race was quite fun because all the people were sitting along the parade route and cheering for you the whole time. The end of race party had water, gatorade and free beer, Tecate to keep in line with the fiesta theme.

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I am very glad I made the last-minute decision to run the race and watch the parade with my friends. All together, I ran about 6 miles and walk another 2.8 today and it all ended with a bang – literally, because I made it home just before the thunder, lightening and rain let loose on the city.

What are you doing this weekend?

 
 

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Alamo 13.1 Half Marathon Recap

Fight to the Finish! That is the motto of the Alamo 13.1 half marathon and that is just what I did. I signed up for this race because it was in San Antonio and it ran right through my neighborhood. I also was hoping some of my friends would run with me because it is always fun to run with friends. One friend signed up and we were going to run together – until she got hurt a month ago. Another friend signed up for her first half, and almost didn’t run – but I told her I would run the whole thing with her and make sure she finished. My pre-race eating was pretty normal, but I did eat extra carbs in the form of sweet potatoes and bites of cupcakes. Ben was awesome and grilled chicken for my pre-race dinner.

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Grilled Chicken & Sweet Potato Pre-race dinner

I had a very relaxed morning getting ready for the race – so relaxed I even folded some laundry! I did have an outfit crisis because it was extremely windy and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees overnight to 45!!!! That is cold for Texas at the end of March! About an hour before the race start, I got excited and a little nervous. I contemplated how I was going to keep my friend motivated to finish and even possibly running my own race (I’m horribly selfish!). I couldn’t just leave her though – I had committed to running with her and make sure she finished and I had to stand by what I said. She and her husband picked me up and he dropped us off near the start. We jogged around the Alamo to warm up and then got in line for the porta-pottys.

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Pre-race with the Alamo in the background

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The crowd lining up for the race

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Mile 2 Going over the historic Hays St Bridge – love the cheeta pants on the right!

Mile 3

Mile 3

Trucking at Mile 4

Trucking at Mile 4

The Husbands a.k.a. Our Bike-Riding, Photo-taking Cheer Squad

The Husbands a.k.a. Our Bike-Riding, Photo-taking Cheer Squad

We started off at an easy pace, but M started having trouble with her feet falling asleep almost immediately. She had gotten new compression socks but they were too tight and not working for her. We probably walked about a mile in the first three and around mile 4 she ended up taking off her socks. After the sock stop, we began the climb up Stadium Drive and through the Trinity University campus – very up and down for 3 miles! We both took a Rehydrate Gel at mile 7 and I drank Spark through the first 6 miles. This was one time I was glad to walk the uphills! While we were trekking up and down the hills, our awesome husbands biked to our house and got her another pair of socks and at mile 9 she was able to change and we were able to keep up a steady run. At mile 9 I ate a Advobar RAW and M had another Rehydrate Gel.

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Mile 10 on the Riverwalk near the San Antonio Art Museum

We had a few porta-potty stops during the race, the last one around Mile 11. After that it was heads down and run to the finish. M was getting tired so we took a couple walk breaks, but powered through the last 1.5 miles and gave it all we had to cross the finish! Our final time ended up being 2:50 – a little longer than her goal of 2:30, but the whole sock thing slowed us down.

Almost done!

Almost done!

Crossing the finish line...bad picture!

Crossing the finish line…bad picture!

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Finishers!

Victory!!! Just like the first time in 1836..only this time the Texans won!

Victory!!! Just like the first time in 1836..only this time the Texans won!

I had a lot of fun helping M reach her goal and sticking with her to encourage her. This race really made me think running a full marathon is possible because with the slower pace I felt really good at the end and probably could have kept going. That is definitely not a feeling I have had in the past, so this was a great race for me as well. We enjoyed a post-race breakfast at Madhatter’s and followed it up with a great church service.

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Dean Scram at Madhatter’s

I’m just chilling out at home for the rest of the day and trying not to eat all the salty food I’m craving. My post-race massage is tomorrow morning and I am very excited! I hope everyone else had a great weekend!

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in Running

 

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Oreo Chocolate Mousse Cake

Oreo Chocolate Mousse Cake

I tried to write this post a few weeks ago, but when it was almost finished, the whole thing got deleted. Here is the shortener, mainly picture version!

I had the chance to make another birthday cake this week, and it came with a great opportunity to use my creativity skills and create a cake I’ve never made before. Luckily, I got some help from The Crumb Boss and her YouTube site for recipes and how-to’s. The videos had a little more chatting than I prefer, but great to watch for technique and recipes. Before I get into making this great creation of a cake, check out what came in that big box:

I got a Kitchen-Aid Mixer!! Woo-hoo. This cake really made good use of my new mixer. I am learning to get all of my ingredients prepared before beginning the baking process. Making sure eggs, milk and butter are at room temperature will ensure your cakes and icing bind together well. If you add cold milk to your butter and sugar mixture, it can cause it to seize up and get lumpy.

Also, prepare your pans before you start mixing anything, that way you can immediately pour batter into pans and put them in the oven. Some cakes will not rise correctly if they sit after mixing or before being put into the oven.

While my chocolate cakes were baking, I began making chocolate mousse with help from the Cake Boss videos and website. First off, whip heavy cream.

Next, melt chocolate. Make sure you have as much as the recipe calls for, I only had half and ended up adding a few different chocolate bars I had around the house!

Whip egg whites until they have soft peaks.

Slowly fold half egg whites into chocolate. Add whipped cream and other half egg whites until smooth.

At some point, use food processor to chop up oreos. Begin layering process: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and oreo crumbs.

Remember to add oreos BEFORE placing middle layer on cake. Or you will have to attempt to pull the middle layer off like I did – very nerve-racking! Lesson learned.

Finish layering cake. Figure out how to ice cake. I ended up having a lot of the chocolate sauce left that wasn’t made into mousse, so I decided to pour it over the cake kind of like a ganache.

I was very happy with the end result, even though, per usual, things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Happy Birthday M! She is demonstrating the Mexican tradition of taking a bite out of your cake before it is served. They were telling me that someone will usually push your face into the cake, so she was pretty worried about that. All of the girls restrained our men, and she came away with a cake-free face!

I love living in San Antonio and the new friends I have met here. I am getting the chance to learn about another culture and they are challenging me to bake new and interesting things! What do you love about where you live?

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Baking, Cakes, When in Texas...

 

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